I have been moaning about this summer, well all summer. Our family vacation was this past March (remember me going on and on about Disney). All of our extra cash (what extra cash) has gone to towards gas to drive Grace back and forth to Stirling twice a day, and now it's time to outfit 4 children for school. Early on this summer I vowed to make the most of the summer, but have only just started to make good on this promise. We recently took a trip to Roseneath to the carousel and then had a delicious dinner at Mankatos Chip Truck. It did not cost a lot, but it made memories that will last our children, and ourselves for a lifetime.
Today I packed a picnic dinner consisting of sandwiches on fresh bakery bread, boiled eggs, slices of cheese, chips and for dessert, Billet Logs (I know I should have included a fruit of veggie, I'll do a veggie tray for a snack tonight). In terms of dinner, for cost and difficulty, I got off pretty easy. We packed the kids and the car and headed up the road ten minutes to Vanderwater Park, a local conservation area.
It had been years since I had been to Vanderwater Park. I think the last time I was there was before any of the kids were born. As we drove into the park, I wondered why I had not taken advantage of this beautiful natural resource sooner, it just seems criminal. It cost very little for the gas to Thomasburg (this is where Vanderwater Park is), the picnic lunch cost less than a hot meal, and there is no cost to use the park. It's difficult to get a more economical mini-vacation.
Vanderwater Park is breathtakingly beautiful. Because we have had so little rain, we were able to walk right across the river. There are normally several naturally occurring waterfalls. In times that are not drought conditions, the waterfalls are very impressive. As girls my sister and I would wade our way over and sit under the falls. I cannot think of a better way to cool off in the heat of the summer.
My normally cautious children were like little mountain goats, running over the rocks. They loved that they could explore, and I loved that the worst they would do is slip on the mossy rocks and get wet. I felt a little badly for the other day trippers who may have hoped for peace and tranquility. What they got were my children's squeals of delight. Apart from the squeals of my delighted children, it was gloriously peaceful. The loudest noise (other than my kids) was the sound of the water falling. The only thing that could have made our afternoon better, would have been if someone had delivered Tim Horton's coffees to Christopher to enjoy on one of the big rocks.
So often I think wistfully of traveling somewhere exotic, somewhere, new, somewhere interesting, somewhere beautiful. On days like today I realize that if I want to see beauty, all that I really have to do is open my eyes. I think that sometimes I forget to open my eyes. Because the stunning beauty is right under my nose I forget to open my eyes and actually see it.
When I saw Vanderwater Park today, I was a little ashamed of myself. I could not believe that someplace this beautiful was only 10 minutes away, and that for more than 17 years I neglected to visit it, probably because it was so close I forgot it existed. We promised the kids that we would come back again this summer, and bring Gracie this time.
This is my challenge to you, and to myself, be a tourist in your own backyard. Look at your own little world like that of a visitor. Explore the ordinary and you will be surprised by the extraordinary.